Misha Collins asks writers to work for free, gets ass handed to him.

Update. This is the part where you think I'm going to tell you this particular one has been removed, right? Well, since I'm not part of this club and so I can't see their super secret list. Oh wait, yes I can, it's on Tumblr. Regardless, judging by the update on the GISHWHES website, I would very much doubt it's been removed.

Commandment 4 – Harassment – It’s come to our attention that a number of teams have been verbally harassing authors and politicians to achieve items. If someone doesn’t want to help you, this is no reason to verbally attack them. We are trying to create art and change lives, not hurt people. Your team will be docked points if we determine that you are breaking Commandment 4. Perhaps more importantly, you are dinging your karma credit. Be nice to people. Remember, you are representing the global community of GISHWHES and that community believes that through art we can change lives – not hurt them.

Wow. Self-aggrandizement much? I say it hasn't been removed because I notice below, they make reference to #173 being removed. In case you're curious as to what that would be, it's this:

#173. Some things should be broken. Let’s see if we can crash williamshatner.com: get all your friends to visit the site at precisely 9:02 AM PST, Monday August 4th. You must show a screencap of the ensuing error message including the URL in the URL bar. (Hint: Don’t visit the site before that exact time, as it will give the servers time to take on the load.) 65 POINTS

Ho Ho Ho. Random acts of kindness. Crash someone's website. Yeah. Lovely people all around.

Also, an upberfan has pointed out that some of the things on the list were user submitted. Unless Misha Collins and Co. don't bother approving them, it's a moot point.

Are you familiar with Misha Collins? I wasn't until today. I don't watch much TV. But apparently he's on a CW show called Supernatural. He also has a yearly charity event called GISHWHES, or the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen. This event, by the way, started as a publicity stunt to help Collins try to win the People's Choice Award.

The scavenger hunts in previous years have had some great feats of accomplishment, helping Hurricane Sandy victims, entertaining dialysis patients, and giving blood. And every year they donate money to Collins' charity Random Acts.

A visit to the GISHWHES website also lists such accomplishments as "Recycling Parties," "Teaching people they can dance anywhere," "Helping adults reclaim their childhood," and other such inane projects that can only be dreamed up by wealthy elite narcissists designed to make people do their bidding. Hidden Cash, anyone? Participants also can win grand prize trips, because what's the point of charity if there isn't something in it for you too, right?

Calm down. I'm not "hating." Okay, yes I am. But so what. If you have money to give to the needy, just do it for fuck's sake. Don't make people jump through hoops. Most of the items on this years GISHWISH scavenger hunt list have nothing to do with any participant really benefitting from the activities. Unless you count the proverbial helping someone "step out of their shell," which I don't. The majority of the list though has little to do with even helping anyone-- unless you count promoting GISHWISH as helping someone.

Some choice examples form the list of 185 things :

19. Stand in front of a recognizable landmark or monument, wear something magnificent, and in whatever your native language is, complete the following sentence: Gishwhes makes me feel____

22. Because of our subversive influence, most governments have declared GISHWHES to be a national security threat. Have a uniformed officer explain to a unit of servicemen how to neutralize a hostile GISHER.

185. Get “GISHWHES” spelled out at night by using the effect of lit and unlit office windows in a skyscraper. We must be able to clearly see the word and it must span at least 30 stories. 291 POINTS

183. Last year, NASA used their official twitter account to politely ask us to stop bothering the astronauts on the space station. NASA has undoubtedly spent the past 12 months regretting this hastily-made decision, so we are giving them a second chance to get in on the fun… Get “GISHWHES conquers space” or “GISHWHES [insert other clever phrase]” written on or in something orbiting in space. 400 points if an astronaut poses with the inscription. No photoshopping allowed! A couple of teams cheated last year on the space item and were disqualified. 289 POINTS

The one that has people upset though, is #78: Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus. -59 POINTS

You see, these well-meaning but very dumb participants got it into their brain to bombard a lot of published science fiction writers with a plea to write a story about Misha, the Queen of England, and an Elopus. No doubt they forgot about the part that it was for charity and so weren't in the know but instead opened email after email from people who came across as the breathless scavenger hunt nerds they are. You see, it never occurred to these well meaning sheeple that writers get paid to write and charity or not, it's their job. And the job requires a great deal of effort.

Just as it never occurred to Misha Collins to, I don't know, pool a sizable list of science-fiction authors who might be willing to participate, so the entire community wouldn't be inundated? Guess that would've taken effort, huh? Maybe it should have gone on the scavenger hunt list.

At least one writer, (who isn't even considered a science fiction writer, mind you) Lauren DeStefano sounded off very loudly on it.

Here's an excerpt from her Facebook page, emphasis mine:

This year, Misha Collins got the fun idea to ask his fans to contact published sci-fi authors to write a story about him.

And by fun I mean rude. Whether or not he gave this any thought, Misha Collins has just subjected authors to dozens of emails from HIS fans asking us to write a story. About him. For free. Maybe it didn't occur to Misha that we are actual people with a job to do. Maybe it didn't occur to him that we are not his employees. Maybe, and this is the most likely, he just thought it would be fun.

But, like anyone else, authors are just people with a job to do. We have our own fans to interact with (and we do so without encouraging them to solicit free work from others), and we have our own stories to write, and our own bills to pay. I also have my own emails from readers to read and respond to, and I am so not appreciating this flood of boilerplate "Write this story for Misha" requests which I seem to have received even though my books are not traditionally classified as sci-fi.

So, because Misha didn't think of us authors as real human beings with a job of our own to do, I am appealing to all of you to see that we are. Please share and pass this along, and please, please, please do not ask me to work for Misha for free so he can have a good laugh. I am right now working on my own books, which I am writing for all of you. And frankly you guys are more important to me than being an item on this scavenger hunt.

Good for Lauren! She was of course painted by the same sheeple who bombarded her with emails as being "insensitive." Either that or some commenters implored her to do it for charity (because blackmail always works) or worse, just insulted her with thinly disguised threats like this comment underneath her post. I didn't include the person's name here which is more tact that that person demonstrated Ms. DeStefano.

You basically wrote a story about Misha Collins right here already, I don't know why it's such a big deal to write a story for your fans in the name of charity. Rather than start all this drama it may have been better (and less time consuming) had you just wrote a short story and sent the same one to your fans or even posted that story on facebook for everyone to use. If I was participating in this contest and had sent you an email I'd be half tempted to send this post as a reply. You may want to rethink topics like this in the future as many of your fans are loyal to supernatural and it's a fandom that really sticks together and due to this post it may result in a loss of fans. I'm sorry, but this was handled poorly.

I need to remember this tactic.

"You should really bake three dozen cupcakes for me instead of complaining that I want you to work for free, otherwise you might lose me as a customer."

"You need to remember that those of us who are fans of your music might not like your comments, and it'd be a real shame if you lost our support, now wouldn't it."

Hell, even science fiction writer Neil Gaiman, whose wife Amanda Palmer was infamous for trying to get musicians to work for free, opted out, albeit in a more aloof way. I imagine he was tired of fielding the comments and emails, too.

It isn't just the tone of the so-called fan responses who already complain the loudest when content creators dare suggest they be paid for their work that really irks me. Nor is it that, charitable giving aside, Misha Collins' self-serving narcissism which reaches Zach Braff levels of annoyance hatched an ill-conceived scheme to get his participants to hound people. Although that is annoying, too.

No, what really bothers me is that in this list of things to do, Misha Collins is also asking you the scavenger hunt participant, to create content as well. Even he sees content the same way as the Facebook commenters: It's no big deal. Just shut up and do it.

Again from the scavenger hunt list:

152. Make a children’s Pop-Up book about the CROATOAN Virus ending the world

167. If GISHWHES were a destination vacation, what would the brochure look like?

Oh PLEASE let me design a brochure for you, and write and make a pop-up book, too. PLEASE let's devalue our talent and content just for YOU, Misha! Pretty please! That's not even mentioning the filmed clips of you doing something stupid that no doubt are a part of that list, and will no doubt, be uploaded to Youtube where ads will live and money will be made, except of course from the person who created the content.

I understand this is the new normal now. People don't value content. And when someone who creates content dares to stand up and say "I'm not working for free," people shit on them. I get it. What I don't get is the very same person who makes a living creating content asks other people to do it for free, in the hopes that the entrants might win a grand prize trip to wherever, the odds being slim. Or worse, the same person puts established authors in a position where, if they say no to a scavenger hunt, they are made to feel like a horrible person because they aren't helping a charity.

How exactly is that a random act of kindness?

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RLDavies's picture

This is my second year participating in GISHWHES. I agree that the scavenger lists are very badly un-thought-through -- both years, items have been included that have had to be withdrawn or amended because of actual danger to participants or incitement to harassment. As an example, one of last year's items included persuading an astronaut in orbit to pose for a photo holding a sign. This was not cleared with NASA in any way. Needless to say, it was quickly withdrawn once NASA started getting inundated with e-mails. (Under the rules of the game, I'm not at liberty to disclose this year's item list until the competition ends.)

I'll be the first to admit that Misha Collins' sense of "whimsical humour" gets on my wick. Not to mention the level of attention-seeking, which is high even for an actor. I fully agree with you there. And I've never heard of him outside the competition, either.

I suspect the intention behind the "have a published author write a story" item was that participants were supposed to use their personal networking skills to find a contact who fit the description and would be happy to dash off a couple of paragraphs as a favour to a friend. (Note that the required length is 140 words or less.) That's certainly what my team is doing. Unfortunately, nobody on GISHWHES management considered the inevitable consequences: that some teams would simply bombard every science-fiction author they could think of.

If the competition is going to survive more than a few years, they're going to have to spend a lot more serious thought about the scavenger items, working through the foreseeable ramifications. Otherwise they're going to end up with a lawsuit on their hands, I just know it.

But I have to disagree about your comments in the last part of this article. Participants are not, on the whole, professional creatives. We're doing it for the challenge of being creatively stretched, and the hilarious togetherness of working as a team to do a rush of mad activities, running on caffeine and adrenalin -- not even in hopes of winning the prize holiday, just purely for the fun of the thing.

Take the brochure item you mention. Some random person is going to sit down with MS Paint or a box of felt-tips and fill a sheet of paper with something vaguely resembling a brochure. It's not spec work. We're not submitting mock-ups. The result won't be evaluated for its suitability for future GISHWHES marketing -- assuming GISHWHES ever actually does any marketing beyond Collins' blog and fan word-of-mouth.

I like to draw but seldom allow myself the time. This week I'm drawing. Other team members are staging weird photo shoots. Still other team members are doing goofy things with their kids. We're not creating content. We're indulging in hobbies.

kidsleepy's picture

"Take the brochure item you mention. Some random person is going to sit down with MS Paint or a box of felt-tips and fill a sheet of paper with something vaguely resembling a brochure. It's not spec work. We're not submitting mock-ups. The result won't be evaluated for its suitability for future GISHWHES marketing -- assuming GISHWHES ever actually does any marketing beyond Collins' blog and fan word-of-mouth."

Judging by the way Doritos’ crowd sourced campaign winners are usually done by professionals, I wouldn't be too sure. Also, you'd be able to speak to that better than I could as the Terms of Service is only divulged after you've registered, but if you read between the sarcastic lines of their Commandments, I would suggest you might be incorrect.

Take Commandment #2:

2. Rights - We intend to share your spectacular item submissions with the world. Therefore, by competing in the contest, you agree to the rights stipulations as detailed in the “Rules and Regulations” which you will agree to (or have agreed to if you’re an eager beaver) when you register. In addition to agreeing to these rights, you also agree that we may use your submissions as wallpaper and/or prayer flags for Misha’s moon castle (currently in development).

Also, if you look farther down the list, Commandment 17 shows that they are hosting your submissions on youtube and Imgur. Last time I checked their Terms of Service are uh...more lax.

17. Submission Formats - You need to submit your videos by providing links to them at http://www.youtube.com. Photo links must be submitted via http://imgur.com. Be sure to mark your videos “unlisted” on Youtube so that we can see them but no one else can. Unless otherwise specified video submissions can be NO LONGER than 15.7 seconds. They also can’t be boring or “artificially intelligent”.

Lastly, should you think i'm just trying too hard to prove a point, let me point to Commandment 37, or as I call it, The Terms Of Service Loophole:

37. Arbitrary Rules and Constraints - May be placed on the Updates page during the course of the Hunt. Watch it daily.

By the way, I respect your not wanting to divulge the list as a participant. you don't have to, as its already been posted elsewhere, and I've taken screen dumps of it. To that point, #183's response to NASA was particularly flippant.

Dabitch's picture

These guys are not doing it for free:

Alex Shvartsman's Speculative Fiction took a page from Science Fiction Writer Michael A. Burstein's playbook, and are writing stories based on the GISHWHES teams purchache of a book OR adding to a kickstarter. From Michael A. Burstein's blog:

I, on the other hand, will be happy to write a story for you if I don't know you, on one condition. I'd like you to do a random act of kindness for my publisher, Apex Publications.
(--- edit for space--- )
Then click on this link: "I Remember the Future: The Award-Nominated Stories of Michael A. Burstein" and have one member of your team purchase a copy of my 2008 collection I Remember the Future directly from the publisher (NOT from Amazon; use the "Add to Cart" button). It can be the trade paperback or the ebook, but I'm guessing most of you will opt for the ebook, as it's only $4.99.

And these writers are not keen on doing it at all. Bic N. Moleskine shows us an impressive collection of glorious Beyoncé "fuck you pay me!" gifs and adds "Enjoy your fandom. But think for yourselves, fer crying out loud. ". Ya Interrobang headlines it gishwhes hunt turns into harassment when authors refuse to participate. The Mary Sue advises:

The authors who are now facing inboxes full of requests for GISHWHES, on the other hand, are innocent bystanders. Enjoy your hunt, GISHERs, but maybe try to find an author who’s indicated they’re willing to help before shooting off any emails about sci-fi stories.

Meanwhile, on Livejournal someone declares: "That article is a thing of beauty. I wonder how it will take before the minions swarm and thus prove once again what entitled assholes they are." I dunno, does this weird twitter-thread directed at Adland count?

kidsleepy's picture

HA! I love that. It's a nice, scratch your back, scratch my back. The uber Misha fans, seem to be avoiding this point. They like to point out everyone is volunteering and paying to be part of GISHWHES, and so therefore it doesn't matter if they give up their content for free or not.

Unfortunately that's only one component to this story-- the other component, which many are ignoring, is the fact that a bunch of scavenger hunt nutters have been bothering the shit out of authors for free content. And lest you think it's only a few people, it's enough people that Misha had to remind them to stop being so annoying in his updates page.

anti-Misha's picture

This isn't a charity event, it's a for profit scavenger hunt.

Liz's picture

No, it's not. The registration fees go right into Random Acts of Kindness, which is a non-profit charity.

kidsleepy's picture

A few people are crawling out of the woodwork to tell me this.

And while I understand that this may or may not be aligned with the actual Random Acts charity or that over the years, the actual dollar amount of money they've actually donated to charity is nowhere to be found on their website or anywhere else for that matter, I purposefully chose not to dwell on that point.

For one thing, all I have to go by are whisperings in emails. For another, I have no interest in taking down Misha Collins although he certainly seems like an annoying publicity hound. I'd rather just point out the dude's stupid list of things includes begging for content for free as that's something I can see.

It actually wouldn't give me pleasure if the people who participated in this over the years suddenly discovered there was no charity attached. For one thing. I doubt the majority of people would care as a lot are Misha's fanboys. For another, if they got something meaningful out of it, charity or not, good for them, I suppose. But mostly, I don't want to shatter anyone's reality any further than I already have.

Judging by some of the twitter comments and comments on other sites, Misha's Fan Club are already angry zealots. I don't need angry phone calls in the middle of the night from anyone who watches CW.

Allez Oop's picture

This is my first year participating in Gishwhes, and I'm a published author (journalism). From my perspective, as a freelancer - YES! i want to get paid for my work. But also - writing 140 words with my name attached to it where a lot of eyes are going to see it, for free, especially as someone who is starting out: I'm all about free marketing. Five minutes of my time as an author for who knows how much exposure? That being said, I don't know Misha Collins or his show, but I know a lot of people love it and it's supposed to be tongue in cheek. There IS a level of responsibility required for how they put things together and I hope they learn that and do better next time because there are fans who don't - think - and just do things. I'm not doing anything I'm uncomfortable with. I've done more art and photography this week than I have for a long time, I've met my neighbors, goofed off with my 65-year-old father, and I'm meeting amazing people from across the U.S. who all enjoy making art. Are there dumb ways they are handling some things, and do they need to grow up a little? Yes. And I hope they learn that. We're not doing it for the trip, that'd just be a perk for a friend of mine who wanted to participate and needed a distraction during a health crisis.
I'm not a zombie, I'm a journalist and a fiction writer, I'm published, and as someone trying to break in (I'm not writing the story for our team, btw, I asked politely! from other friends with full disclosure) I think that putting some of your work out there for people to discover for free isn't necessarily a bad thing. Harassment? yes. Narcissism? yes. But "showing your work" a la Austin Kleon (Show your work, NYT bestseller)...there's a benefit.

kidsleepy's picture

Thanks for your comment. Lots of participants are being mature about it, I'm sure. This post was never about them, however.
The fact you are participating in Gishwhes in a mature way has nothing to do with the fact that other participants are harassing published authors who by the way, AREN'T participating. I trust you see the difference.
I also trust you understand that for every person who falls victim to the "free exposure" ruse, it causes the price of our collective day rates to drop.
Put another way-- you just admitted you'll do the work for free if it means exposure. So why the should anybody pay you from here on out? Seriously?
This is the prevailing thought we are experiencing in advertising, too. Case in point, I've lost freelance clients who just three years ago, used to pay my not outlandish day rate, and now want to pay me thirty percent less, but expect the same amount of work.
After fifteen plus years in the business, my portfolio speaks for itself, and I don't need 'free' exposure. Also that's a big misnomer, anyway. It isn't free. I don't care how much experience you have-it costs you because now you have to work twice as hard to make ends meet. Put another way, if Neil Gaiman espoused free exposure as you do, he would have participated.
Again I ask, why should a client pay you (or an illustrator or musician) ever again if you can be coerced to do it for free? And now because that precedent has unfortunately been firmly set, if you don't like it, or say no, I need to make a living, that's your problem. Clients can now find another person (a naive college grad most likely) who will fall for the free exposure angle. And fangirls who never heard of you, will beat you up in the comments section for not being down with Misha.
And there goes all of our livelihood.
So yeah, no thanks to free exposure. That's a crock.
I don't know Misha Collins or his show either, but I have been harassed enough on twitter by the slavish legions of fangirls who continue to promote him (and Gishwhes every so often) to know I don't care for his way of using people to promote him, or his so-called charity. And I say so-called because more than a few people now written us to express their feeling that charitable aspect to this whole thing is nebulous at best.
As to your point about self-fulfillment, in this participation, I'm glad you're getting something out of it. Hopefully it will teach you and a lot of other people that you don't need a megalomaniacal sci-fi actor to steer that ship.
You don't need a list. You can make the world a better place with your friends, or down at the soup kitchen or local church. No youtube video necessary.

Dabitch's picture


People are tumbling (is that the word? They're not blogging on tumblr are they?) and facebooking and tweeting a lot about this, and often declaring that it's "just fun" , and touting the charity angle and how it brings strangers together and what a great experience it is etc, all missing the point that people who aren't participating aren't amused by the constant barrage of tweets, emails, and facebook-snark basically calling us spoilsports for not laughing along in the fun. Demanding apologies for this post above, and still harassing Lauren DeStefano over on facebook and in emails. Get a grip, people!

Buying a book is not buying an author.

If you're all such good loving fun big hearted charity people, you wouldn't be harassing people, s'all I'm saying. You'd be out having fun and working for charities. Do'h.

Oh and PS DDos:ing a website, Like the William Shatner thing, is an actual felony. You paid actual real money to join an online swarm committing a felony? And you'll screendump the proof? Which you'll then email from your account so that you may take credit for it? That's a special kind of stupid.

(I don't even care if Shatner and Misha have an agreement, it's not listed as if they have so you don't know if you're committing a crime or if there's an agreement between the two.)

kidsleepy's picture

It's not even listed which charities (if any) this organization helps, or if even how much money is actually donated. But you know...as long as Misha's happy.

Tango Poppa's picture

Supposedly, it's The Art Department, Inc DBA The Random Act.
But I've been asking some Secretaries of State offices about their registration and interestingly, even though they have IRS papers, they aren't registered in the state.
Now if I were a truly evil person, I'd post the link to the Random Act's officers emails and twitter accounts to let them enjoy some of the same experiences Misha's Marching Morons have brought to a lot of others.

kidsleepy's picture


Dabitch's picture

Misha's Marching Morons oh ha ha ha, you should be a writer. Hang on, I bet you are one. One that Misha's Marching Morons ticked off.

tristan's picture

Regarding Random Acts, you could, well ask them.... they will provide tax filings and 1023 tax exempt letters. But that might be a bit too much like actual work?

As for GISHWHES, its about having fun. A strange and alien concept to some I know.

Also, I notice you bring out the Amanda Palmer thing again - what does that have to do with anything? Oh its just a way to be outraged over nothing.

Ho hum.

Go have some fun (preferably not by being nasty to people).

And have a free hug.

kidsleepy's picture

Lol, yes you're so ho hum about it you felt the need to leave a comment. I've done quite enough work on this, but you know it's kind of funny, when people say they give money to charity they generally mention a. how much money goes to said charity and b.mention the charity by name on their website. This does neither. In fact, going to Random Acts's website doesn't mention Misha or Gishwhes either.

But yeah, so far y'all have been insulting me on twitter for a week or so now, breaking Misha's commandment four, so obviously you fanboys and fangirls need to work on centering your moral compass.

P.S. threatening to shut down William Shatners website, may sound fun but it's actually a felony. And bombarding published authors with requests for free work for a stupid scavenger hunt they aren't involved in sounds more like being a nuisance than anything fun. And getting a crowd of people to annoy the hell out of NASA which is what happened last year, doesn't sound fun so much as psychotic.

Guess we have a different definition of fun.

As for Amanda Palmer-- wow I guess you don't know how she made musicians audition for her tour although she had no intention of paying them until enough people complained. She happens to be married to Neil Gaiman who wants no part of the Misha Freebie Cult. It's all very easy to understand if you, I don't know, click on the links and read?

Or is that too much work?

P.S. I'm always having lots of fun, thanks, and I have enough hugs, thanks.

Leona's picture

"I've done quite enough work on this, but you know it's kind of funny, when people say they give money to charity they generally mention a. how much money goes to said charity and b.mention the charity by name on their website. This does neither. In fact, going to Random Acts's website doesn't mention Misha or Gishwhes either." Huh? Random Acts lists Misha as the co-founder/board President on the staff page. With a big picture of him. The GISHWHES site has a button that says "proud sponsor of Random Acts" on the main page. These are simple to find on these websites so I really don't get how you suggest RA/GISH have no easily visible ties?

RA also tweets/blogs/FB posts about GISHWHES before and during the hunt. GISHWHES isn't really a part of RA, but it does benefit that charity and pairs with them to do some of the Acts. Like this: http://www.therandomact.org/tag/gishwhes/

As for how much money is donated, the registrations fees benefit RA. Registration fees vary from base level of $19 up to $200+ (for folks who want the highest level swag), so imagine it varies wildly year to year. They note "tens of thousands" and I believe that, given the number of GISHERS registering each year. TBH, the GISH site is often a bit manic, so it doesn't surprise me that hard numbers aren't up. Should they be? Sure. Do I feel like they are being shady by not having those numbers up yet? Nope.

Dabitch's picture

Just FYI: this is what the Random Act website looked like the day this article was posted: The Random Act Aug 4 at seven pm. There's no mention at all of GISHWHES. Having a charity clearly visible doesn't excuse harassing writers anyway.

kidsleepy's picture

Considering how many years this has been going on, and no one knows how much money is actually donated, it is defintely shady. I believe that is supposed to be public knowledge. Excuse me if I don't take Misha's word for it. Also most GISHERS as they are called are not visiting the Random Act. They're visiting the GISHWHES site. There is a banner on the site, but so what? Am I supposed to make a huge connection because they have a banner?
Maybe it's because Misha has diarrhea of the mouth, but in each of his 2,000 word posts there is scant information about their being tied to Random Acts at best, and certainly only in passing. Let's be honest, it is hardly the focal point of his stupid lists. It's a scavenger hunt, and occasionally one of the things on that list might have to do with charity. Being 'Random," and "passing on hugs," or whatever is not charity. It's bullshit.

BryonyL's picture


Tango Poppa's picture

No need to ask. There stuff is supposed to be on file with the California Secretary of State's office and the California Dept of Justice. It isn't.
Which leads to all sorts of interesting questions one can ask. Or complaints one can file with the California Secretary of State about the charity and those that raise money for them. Which would ostensibly be GISHWHES.

And I bet the more complaints the California Secretary of State the more likely both organizations will face official scrutiny and maybe an audit. Perhaps we can make that an annual event like the hunt?
Or perhaps I can give all the information to John Scalzi and let him decide whether to go public with it or not. Or give it to the SF writer groups he's a member of.
Hmm. I kind of like that idea.

Verity Daritel's picture

Dear Tango,

I hope this won't sound too… I don't know, Deep-Throat-ish, but I was hoping you could clarify for me some of the things you said about filing complaints? I found this article while trying to gather information to report Mr. Collins, and I think that your knowledge could be very helpful to me. My name's Verity and you can contact me at veritydaritel@yahoo.com. Of course, no pressure--I understand if it's not of interest to you. Have a lovely day!

~ V

fairuse's picture

I have not heard of this guy and his merry band of followers. I make it a point to try to keep my crazy from outgassing into the environment. I'll state that the All Seeing Father (IRS) will put the press on Misha Collins and GISHWHES if there a reason.

Don't Feed the Big Game Hog Slop:
Being a fan of Science Fiction and love my authors, however, authors are big game and there are some rules; the basic rule of thumb is never ask for special treatment. If you throw $ at an author's Server & Data Usage bills you the individual are still a little known supporter in a large group of fans.

Yes Sir Cult Leader:
Even if you feel so entitled as to want to be chief cult leader, remember how and where that ended for some. Cherry or grape flavored?

If that is an alien word to some and the Misha Collins's of world it is -- Stop tricking folks.
Look out for that #InvisibleCat

Bettina's picture

First Gishwhes is a scavenger hunt - not a charity - Random Acts is. I was a participant, I'm not a marching moron. I knew the difference. We weren't harrassing sci-fi authors. I asked 2 authors because I'm a fan of their books. One of them agreed and in return I created buzz for their books. I think it was a win-win situation. Oh, and btw that scavenger hunt item created more interest in sci-fi books among non-sci-fi readers than any advertisement campaign!

Dabitch's picture

Make up your minds, people.

kidsleepy's picture

Far be it for me to make you come down off your high horse, but the sci-fi book industry wasn't saved by your gesture. And if this year's participants (with your being an exception, of course) weren't harassing sci-fi authors, then why in the hell did it get so much press? Why did so many articles across the spectrum write the same story. Why did Neil Gaiman politely tweet everyone to get the hell off his property? Why is the GISHWHES wikipedia updated with the story as well?

Yeah you're right. We're all in collusion. It's part of The Great Conspiracy To Discredit Saint Misha.

Think Before You Write.'s picture

This article is ridiculous and completely off the mark. 2014 was my first year participating in GISHWHES and may I say it was one of the best choices I have ever made. I was at a really hard time in my life and feeling really down. I was alone and had no friends, no one to talk to. I am a fan of Misha and Supernatural and learned about GISHWHES so I joined a team. That team and I worked our asses off to get as many items done on the scavenger list as we could and we did it all while having the time of our lives.
GISHWHES is in NO way about "making things FOR Misha" it is about meeting new people, being creative, talking to new people, bringing people together, learning new things and skills, and working together. It is a seriously incredible event to take place in. The list is very long and full of so many crazy things to get creative with. Everyone involved was super nice and helpful. Misha has said before a lot of the things on the list are impossible. He includes them anyways as to show that it's all about just having fun.
GISHWHES helped me to discover more of who I am and helped me to make some incredible friends from all over the world that I talk to almost every day. Misha is a kind and caring person, he can come off strong but he is in no way cocky and all about himself. He will sometimes act like that as a joke but in reality he is actually the complete opposite. GISHWHES isn't FOR charity. It isn't driven to help out a charity.
GISHWHES is just a fun scavenger hunt you take place in, not a charity driven event. You pay to sign up for, that money goes to charity. Misha runs a charity called Random Acts of Kindness so there's various things that are added on the list where you are to do some random acts of kindness to show support for his charity. But GISHWHES isn't ALL for charity, the scavenger hunt is just for fun with some added bonuses of helping others while in the process. He does the scavenger hunt for people to join for fun and adds some charity work in it to encourage people to help others, that is pretty amazing.
I know of countless people who are fans of Misha who do so much charity work now because of him. You can hate Misha all you want but there's no denying that he's encouraging people to help others. The trip for the winning team, they get to go on a all paid vacation with Misha. That is something a lot of people can not afford on their own. So whether people are joining GISHWHES to just go on the trip or to just meet Misha, it's encouraging more people to join GISHWHES to do all these incredible things. He is encouraging people to make a change. Whether personal or not GISHWHES causes a lot of amazing changes and it should be praised not twisted into ridiculous articles like this. Think before you write your articles next time.

kidsleepy's picture

"is in no way about making things FOR Misha" it is about meeting new people, being creative, talking to new people, bringing people together, learning new things and skills, and working together." Sounds amazing and vague. And the list is so long and amazing I couldn't POSSIBLY understand it, because only Misha and his followers could. Tell that to the sci-fi authors who felt violated because people like you wouldn't leave them alone.

It's not a charity as you say, but it's FOR a charity but not a charity anyone can actually prove, because it's not ACTUALLY a registered charity, sorry to break it to you. You're believing what is told to you, or what you read on a website, but you actually have to register that shit with the government. Don't believe everything you read because it isn't necessarily true.

So let's all have a slow clap for the cult members who don't read or understand articles. I'm not even going to bother clarifying further. But I will say, I have yet to see any amazing changes you're speaking of. Last time I checked the world is still a disturbing place. Trying to get an established sci-fi author to give up their work for free for your garbage list hasn't changed it.

Dabitch's picture

Dear ironically named "Think Before Yo..."
That whooshing sound you hear is the point of the article flying through your empty head.

Paige's picture

I'm not sure what you were on while participating in GISHWHES, but it was a total shit fest for me. My 'team' consisted of me and a handful of others, three of which who could hardly speak English. Another girl and I were the only ones to actually contribute anything. The whole experience was stressful and underwhelming.

Valkyrie's picture

I'm not going to argue the point about harassing people, because it should never have been done. I am willing to bet Misha has apologized to those affected. I've seen the guy write and/or tweet apologies before. It's now in the past, and we can move on. I could go on about what GISHWES is about and what it's done for participants, but people have already done that and it's obviously not something that will be accepted by some. He says he started the scavenger hunt because of a promise to some fans and his memory of the annual scavenger hunt at the university he went to. So, it's not specifically "for charity" but, from what I've read, has always had a few "charity" items. Some of the items, though, especially where William Shattner is concerned, are items that have been actually submitted by those in question, so they know it's coming. NASA has had a great time with the hunt, from my understanding, even though they couldn't do the items at that time. Apparently they named a mountain or rock on Mars after it... ?

Everyone involved in GISHWES is always trying to make it better every year, and they try not involve, overwhelm or harass anyone. It's a rule, and if your team is found doing so, you can be disqualified. As I said, I cannot and will not argue about the harassment, because I honestly don't know about it. I didn't participate until this year, and it's uncalled for no matter the circumstances. I don't recall anyone being harassed this year. I could be wrong. I know several items were deleted and/or changed during the hunt for various reasons.

Someone seemed to have mentioned that GISHWES is a non profit. It's not. The GISHWES website specifically states that it is a for profit scavenger hunt. It states the money is used for items that are sent out (for those that have purchased the higher tiers), for the prizes, maybe a few other things, as well as is the largest contributor to Random Acts. I know a lot of people that have businesses that say they donate items/money to charities that don't specify the amount. That being said, usually you would like them show what the items are or a percentage. That is something I had also been wondering myself, but since I've seen it so often with other businesses, I don't think they HAVE to since they are for profit.

As for "creating items FOR Misha", it kind of is, that cannot be denied because he even says he wants to see what everyone comes up with, he wants to be amazed and maybe laugh. The items you mention, though, are kind of silly. I mean what is he and anyone associated with GISHWES going to do with a brochure about GISHWES as a destination, or the Croatoan virus (which is a fake virus that is introduced on the show)? Doing these "items" is also about doing it for yourself. Trying to push yourself either with art or out of your comfort zone.

Someone mentioned that there isn't any "kindness" in GISHWES. There were many items that would be considered kindness, even though small, such as taking a family member out to dinner, handing out roses to strangers, buying and having lunch with a homeless person, doing a puppet show at a children's hospital or becoming an organ donor. It's not something that everyone on the team has to do either. If someone or the whole team doesn't feel comfortable doing something, they don't have to, especially since there are so many items to do that your team cannot possibly complete every item on the list.

For those saying Random Acts isn't an actual charity, the website has the EIN number for you to look it up yourself. You had me questioning, which is good and I thank you, so I kept looking until I found it. It's at the bottom of every page on the site. So, it IS a registered charity. On the website now, as well as the one you've linked, has their tax filings and other documents (which I'm sure had the EIN number on them). They have also shown proof of many of the things they do/have done, including building a school/orphanage in Haiti.

You don't have to like Misha Collins (lets be honest, he's not a great actor and can come across as full of himself as just about any other actor can), but to say things like "he doesn't care" or insinuating that he's trying to scam people is untrue. He started Random Acts because of how he grew up and the random acts of kindness shown to him and his family. He's nutty and goofy, makes fun of himself all the time, and tries to make people laugh, maybe as a defense mechanism because of how he grew up and was made fun of as a kid.

Dabitch's picture

> Comments 500 words worth on a year old post.
> "It's now in the past, and we can move on."


BryonyL's picture

I took part in Gishwhes last year for the first time. I chose to do it because I was 16 years old and, I'm afraid to admit, didn't have the motivation to donate to charity as I would like, especially as I was pretty much pennyless. I didn't take part to associate myself with misha collins but because I loved the idea of taking a week out to spend time creating art and spreading kindness in the weirdest ways I could. I made some bread shaped like princess leia's head and then gave it all to my elderly neighbour as a gift. I went to an old people's home and sang a rendition of 'over the rainbow' to them, to their delight. I made some friends and we made each others lives happier through discussing the tasks and complimenting each other work. I wrote a song and as a result started to learn piano, made lots of art, and met up with my friends for the first time in forever to go to the beach. I think what I took from it is that, yes, in heinsight it may have annoyed the people working at the shop I went to when me and my friends showed up to take a photo of us dressed in weird costumes, but it benefitted us exponentially. Just having a cause to go out and do something that otherwise would have me terrified enough that I'd never put myself out there. It created opportunities to see the people you love and show people you care. I have a whole week of amazing memories that I'd never have made otherwise. The point isn't that every item helps loads of people, its about getting off your butt and doing something, especially if you don't normally, to help maybe one person, or make somene happy. I think that a lot of the seemingly pointless tasks can at least make one person happy, even if its just the person doing it. Its about teamwork and friendship and trying something new. And I realise that the story task was badly thought through, along with many others; I'm not saying that they've got a perfect game which is going to make everyone happy, because lets be honest that doesnt exist. Even donating to a charity means another is being neglected - and I don't mean that in a bad way because obviously donating to charity is good. But I honestly believe there are many good items that really do help people and change things. People have been reunited with family members and they've discovered talents they didnt know they had and have made their family and friend's, and complete strangers, days. Even if every participant only did one good thing for someone in the whole of the hunt, that's still thousands and thouands of good things being done across the world that otherwise may not have happened. And the little things mean a lot. I don't know mishas motives for creating GISHWHES or the extent of his narcissism, and honestly I dont care much; but I do know that I'm glad I took part in GISWHES, because I got to donate to charity, make people smile, make memories with my friends, overcome fears, challenge norms and gain confidence. And thats more than I had done the whole year before. Oh, and lastly, I personally find the commandments both hilarious and plainly good. They arent set out to make GISHERS think they can do whatever they like, and I take most of the points in them on harrassing people as a joke. I honestly think theyre meant to sound a little sarcastic so people know not to do that - and the points on being kind are the main part of it anyway. I think the whole thing just makes people my age and older, who maybe have a touch of weird in them as I do, want to be involved in helping or just being weird for a week. And I assume most of mishas fans actually want to draw him and the mascot all over the place. I drew him and the queen as 1950's poster girls. It was really fun and random and seeing peoples faces when they saw it was hilarious - more so when they were fans of misha. So what if the whole thing is practically based on Gishwhes and him, his fans love him and for him to be modest of that would be pointless. He knows he has a fanbase, and hes just making them happy by awknowleding them - even if impersonally.
Sorry if I sound like im ranting or forcing my point, i dont expect to change the fact that a lot of insensitive acts can also result from it, and I dont mean to sound rude or ignorant... Gishwhes just means a lot to me now as its the only time I feel I've actually made some form of difference.

BryonyL's picture

oh and william shatner is a follower and participater of gishwhes and the crashing of his website would be a harmless joke, it wouldnt last very long anyway and him and misha probably have agreed on it beforehand.
Also uploading the videos and photos to imgur and youtube doesnt give gishwhes the right to them, only to view them. My videos are still private and havent been viewed by anyone but those i sent them to - gishwhes and family.

LA-Adman's picture

What is WITH you Gishwishes obsessed people? This post is two years old and you're still leaving 600 word comments.

BryonyL's picture

sorry... its fresh for me cos i just found this and didnt know about gishwhes when it was written.

BryonyL's picture

wouldnt you want to argue the side of something you believe in?

LA-Adman's picture

Judging by your comments, none of you actually read the article first, which makes you look like rabid idiots. Great branding.

BryonyL's picture

what do you mean? did i miss the point? I do that a lot. I go off on stubborn explainations completely unrelating to the point. i'm a bit of an idiot really tbh.

LA-Adman's picture

I'm not going to spoonfeed you the point you so obviously missed. Try READING the article that is LITERALLY right above your rants.

BryonyL's picture

hey it wasnt a rant i was just, i dunno. i just wanted people to understand and know the good side to it too cos its not all about misha, normal everyday people take part in it and... i give up i dont even know what im trying to say anymore...
And i had read it, which is why i referred to it. i cant remember it now tbh but i thought i understood it. I took it to ba about how gishwhes was a sham of sorts in the fact that it preached one thing and delivered another, organized by misha who is self centred enough to make it all about himself and advertisement. It just sounded to me like gishwhes was being completely misinterpreted and portrayed in the wrong way - as if it wasnt doing any good whatsoever. Im sorry if my misunderstanding or whatever has like insulted you or something.

Dabitch's picture

Seriously, take your adderall and read the previous comments too while you're at it.

BluePony's picture

Oh, yes I am one of those weird people commenting on a post that is two years old! You must forgive me, as I am a truly strange person who reads things over a hundred years old and make comments on them too, such as, Dostoevsky, Jane Austin, Darwin etc. I came across this post because I was researching the scavenger hunt thinking I might do it next year - for fun. I read the article and the all the comments. And what I have come away with is this: You and the original author have taken on a moral and intellectually superior view point. And yet, when a commenter points out that the writer is mistaken about Random Acts not being a registered charity org. It is, btw, I checked. Rather than admit the mistake, you resort to name calling and snarkiness. Misha Collins has admitted and apologized for his transgressions (I checked on that too), yet you can't do the same? Hardly the way to keep up the shinny veneer of superiority is it? I might also note that it is slander to say that a charitable organization is a fraud, when it isn't. You and the author might be considering yourselves lucky that you are such small fry that Random Acts and Mr. Collins haven't chosen to sue. Here is the link to Random Acts disclosing finances: http://www.randomacts.org/about/reports/

kidsleepy's picture

What's fascinating to me isn't that you are commenting on a two year old post, although I appreciate being linked to Dostoevsky. No what is fascinating to me is that you seem to have missed the whole point of this article and are instead getting aggressively defensive.

You should look at the bottom of Random Acts' website. It clearly states Random Acts is a division of The Art Department Inc, whatever "a division of," means. So Random Acts actually isn't the name of the charity, at all. I know you like saying Random Acts, but that name as an actual charity is not the same as this charity which is in fact called The Art Department, Inc.

According to Charity Navigator they aren't even rated because they have under one million in revenues-- I guess after six years they are unable to grow, I don't know. And despite the page you link with their tax reports, Charity Navigator only shows their updated tax records from December of 2014. See for yourself. https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.profile&ein=043276521

Regardless, you and your ilk keep coming here and leaving aggressively defensive posts that are now turning vaguely threatening as Dabitch said. I'm fairly certain you are breaking Misha's commandment four by harassing us. You should practice what you preach instead.

Dabitch's picture

What exactly would Misha sue us for? Please elaborate your vague threat.

Fed-Up's picture

Money was taken out of my account and the item sold in the shop for GISHWHES was never given to me. No one would talk to me about it. When it says you get a signed card you get a printed one. That's false advertisement and if you were in the UK that would not happen. (When you spend £19 pounds for the thing.) The helper's treatment of disabled people is frankly not nice. When Mr.Collins himself says that Gishwesh is Shit and has no time for it but laughs at people's misfortunes. The reason why he keeps it going. Feeling dissolution by it all. He does not run it so don't have any issue with him, but he needs to sort out his people.

Jamie's picture

I bet you are all conservative republicans. You're so concerned about money. Well, this is free: "I love you all, anyway. From the bottom of my heart." I would be willing to bet that someone needed to hear that.

kidsleepy's picture

Not really sure who "you all," is, considering how many people have commented. If you mean Adland, half of us are European. But speaking of love, thank you for your comment. It's good to see an article from 2014 still getting attention.

kat1_'s picture

what tom foolery is going on here what fresh hell have i landed into I was looking for pony club information not someone blasting Misha and GISHWHES . Bitter much geez....

Buzzi's picture

U know what to all the peeps being bitter over Misha or gishwhes FUCK YOU u have the time to make these long ass comments but not the time to actually fully understand it n know that it's FOR charity purposes ...in fact all of Misha's extra projects r for charity
..u just can't appreciate a man for being different can u?? Nor do u seem to understand his humour or wittiness...the purpose of gishwhes is also to make people move out of their comfort zone and so the stuff they normally won't do n feel the joy in doing things just for free will...that is if you all can understand THAT

kidsleepy's picture

You realize you're commenting on an article that is almost four years old, right?

What_a_bunch_of_losers's picture

I bet all these idiots making out Misha collins charity was scam feel like idiots now!

kidsleepy's picture

More idiotic than commenting on an article written four years ago?

Dabitch's picture

This is a comment magnet. Not an informative comment magnet though.....

The Stork's picture

While I understand where you are coming from, should they REALLY have to make note of things like writers don't work for free? Its adults and older teens, people who SHOULD know that already. Also, with the ones about creating stuff, it's to embrace creativity and for artists to do what they enjoy, making art. While some prompts may not have been thought about much, GISWHES is an amazing thing. It promotes itself, yes, but in doing so it brings in more people to have fun and raise money for whichever charity.

(Nam is the first thing I thought of)

Mytwocents's picture

Thank you for bringing to the attention of some gish participants something that we clearly need to consider as a whole group. The goal is never to harass anyone. ( except shantner, but he knew what he was getting into. He is a gisher.) Usually poor Gish behavior is by newer or younger participants that don’t have many resources and have not considered how their actions might be unamusing. Many of the items you listed are things meant to be accomplished by the participant, not sourced out. What does it hurt you that someone might spend their own energy on something to share with the world? That’s a lot of if venom for something you have not participated in and have a half understanding of. Many of the items on the list are submitted by the participants and not by Misha at all as much of the game is user generated. In fact most of the Misha centric items are specific suggestions of the fandom. As far as items used for publicity, we all want our items in the yearbook. We all want to see what everyone else worked so hard on during the week. You can hate all you want and smugly call people sheeple ( easier than gaining a full understanding) or you can participate one year. Ask the questions of which you have assumed the answers . Gish is literally gamifying the spread joy and kindness in the world WITH other people who have found each other through the game. It’s fun and challenging. There are tasks all year long, they are free to participate in via the app ( also free) and not usually Gish themed. We only pay for the one week. Employees and websites trips winners etc all cost money. Sure we can all do these things on our own. I can also jog. That doesn’t stop me from joining a marathon. Which by the way requires an entrance fee that covers the cost of doing business.

Anonymous Adgrunt's picture

Misha Collins is a sexual predator too.